Observers are waiting to see what impact Singapore’s Gillman Barracks development will have on the local art scene.

The result of heavy government investment, Singapore’s newest contemporary art district, Gillman Barracks, will open on Saturday 15 September 2012. Twelve of the district’s thirteen galleries are opening shows to coincide with the debut.

An artist rendering of Singapore's upcoming gallery district, Gillman Barracks.

The thirteen galleries that make up the Gillman Barracks hail from countries all over Asia and the world. They are (in alphabetical order): Equator Art Projects, FOST Gallery, Future Perfect, Michael Janssen Gallery, Mizuma Gallery, Ota Fine Arts, Partners & Mucciaccia, ShanghART Gallery, Silverlens, Space Cottonseed, Sundaram Tagore Gallery Singapore, The Drawing Room and Tomio Koyama Gallery. The opening exhibitions are described in detail below.

Equator Art Projects | Indonesia | “Marcel Duchamp in Southeast Asia” | 15 September to 21 October 2012

Sister gallery to Langgeng Gallery in Magelang, Equator Art Project represents a core group of artists from Indonesia, though they also show work from other artists in the region. They will open their Singapore space with the show “Marcel Duchamp in Southeast Asia”, for which artists from the region were invited to create works inspired by arguably the most important conceptual artist in the West.

FOST Gallery | Singapore | “Untitled (Singapura #90)” | 15 September to 28 October 2012

Gillman Barrack’s only locally owned art space, FOST Gallery will host the exhibition “Untitled (Singapura #90)” for their first show in their new location. The show, the title for which is simultaneously a homage to conceptual artist Félix González-Torres and a tongue-in-cheek reference to Singapore’s rank on the 2012 Happy Planet Index, will feature a number of local and international artists.

Christian Thompson, 'Three Sisters', from the series "We Bury Our Own", 2012, c-type print.

Future Perfect | Australia | “We Bury Our Own” | 15 September to 14 October 2012

Founded by Australian artist and gallerist Jasper Knight, Future Perfect will host the first Asian exhibition of work by indigenous Australian multimedia artist Christian Thompson. This series of self-portraits takes aim at issues of identity and post-colonialism in contemporary Australia.

Mizuma Gallery | Japan | “Crossing Gazes” | 15 September to 18 November 2012

Mizuma Gallery was founded in 1994 and is known for curating pioneering exhibitions of contemporary Japanese and Asian art. They will open with the “Crossing Gazes”, a show of new pieces by Korean artist Hyung Koo Kang, who works in large-scale portraiture.

Yayoi Kusama, 'A Sensation of the Daybreak', 2012, acrylic on canvas.

Ota Fine Arts | Japan | “Yayoi Kusama: Metallic” | 14 September to 28 October 2012

Japanese mainstay Ota Fine Arts will host an exhibition of recent work from superstar contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama for the grand opening of its Singapore space. The show will feature Kusama’s two most recent series of works, “Love Forever” and “My Eternal Soul”, which depart from the motifs of her earlier work.

Partners & Mucciaccia | Italy | “From Picasso to the New Roman School – the never-ending cult of beauty in contemporary art” | 15 September to 30 November 2012

Representing modern and contemporary artists from Europe and the US, Partners & Mucciaccia’s Singapore branch will feature artists such as Picasso, Piero Pizzi Cannella and Marco Tirelli. This first exhibition will trace the development of modern and contemporary art in Europe and the US through a number of avant-garde artists, covering styles as diverse as Cubism, abstract art, pop art and conceptual art.

ShanghART Gallery | China | “Part: Zhang Enli Solo Exhibition” | 14 September to 30 October 2012

ShanghART will open its Singapore space with a solo exhibition from Shanghai artist Zhang Enli. The show is composed of only three works, a watercolour, an oil painting, and a sculpture that examine the relationship between component parts and a whole and its implication for the meaning of a given object.

Silverlens | The Philippines | “Beautiful Pain” | 15 September to 14 October 2012

Originally a photography gallery, Silverlens has since expanded to cover all contemporary art. Though the Gillman Barracks location is their fourth exhibition space, it is their first outside of Manila. They will début with a show of work by self-taught surrealist artist and illustrator Luis Lorenzana.

Space Cottonseed | Korea | “Prelude” | 15 September to 21 October 2012

The new branch of South Korea’s non-profit gallery Cottonseed, Space Cottonseed will use the Gillman Barracks opening to launch an introductory showcase of five artists from South Korea, Singapore and China.

Henri Cartier-Bresson, 'Srinagar, Kashmir', 1948, gelatin silver print.

Sundaram Tagore Gallery | USA | “The Big Picture” | 14 September to 10 November 2012

Sundaram Tagore Gallery was first founded in 2000 in New York City to promote exchange between Western and non-Western cultures. With galleries in New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, they will open their Singapore branch with “The Big Picture”, an exhibition of photographers who have “fundamentally changed the way we see the world”. Artists with works on show include Henri Cartier-Bresson, Annie Leibovitz, Robert Mapplethorpe and Sebastião Salgado.

The Drawing Room | The Philippines | “Short Memory” | 15 September to 24 October 2012 

Established in 1998, The Drawing Room represents a number of acclaimed and emerging Filipino artists. The goal of their debut exhibition is twofold: to provide an overview of the artists represented by the gallery and to gather works that provide a closer inquiry into the unique artistic landscape of contemporary Manila.

Masahiko Kuwahara, 'Pearl', 2009, acrylic on canvas.

Tomio Koyama Gallery | Japan | “Masahiko Kuwahara, Yoshitomo Nara, Hiroshi Sugito” | 15 September to 21 October 2012

Though they have four galleries in Japan, the Gillman Barracks venue is Tomio Koyama Gallery’s first international space. The titular artists in their first Singapore exhibition have been with the gallery since its conception, offering a representative view of their aesthetic perspective.

Future Gillman galleries

Germany’s Michael Janssen Gallery will also soon open their Singapore branch with the exhibitions  of four young Indonesian artists, titled “Blended by Desire”, and “Stereomongrel”, a film by New York artist Luis Gispert, though the dates for these exhibitions have not yet been announced. Pearl Lam Galleries and Takashi Murakami’s Kaikai Kiki Gallery will also both launch branches in Gillman Barracks in 2013.

About Gillman Barracks

In development since 2010, Gillman Barracks is the result of a SGD10 million (approx. USD8 million) investment on the part of Singapore governmental agencies like the National Arts Council (NAC) and the Economic Development board. When the project is complete, the district will play host to around twenty galleries, the Centre for Contemporary Arts set to open in 2013, as well a research centre and a residency programme.

Previously a colonial military complex, Gillman Barracks has currently attracted fifteen galleries to sign three-year leases on their exhibition spaces. However, there are doubts as to the effect the Gillman Barracks will have on the local art community. As The Wall Street Journal noted, the influx of foreign dealers will likely put significant economic pressure on local galleries, of which there is only one in the Barracks. According to Eugene Tan, Director of the Economic Development Board, this is partially by design. As he told the WSJ, “We want to encourage [local galleries] to raise [their] game.”

However, the organisers were aware of the need to support local galleries when planning the Gillman Barracks. According to NAC Deputy CEO Khor Koh Wah, they invited a number of Singapore galleries to move into the new district, but FOST Gallery was the only one to accept.


Related Topics: art districts, art in Singapore, Asia expands, gallery shows

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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